Recently, I applied for an entry-level position with Philadelphia Magazine, but unfortunately my resume was discarded because I didn't have any magazine experience and I never worked with the computer program they use to put their magazine together.
And after an unsuccessful experience with my last internship, I applied to one with MetroKids, a free Philadelphia based magazine for parents, hoping for better results. I sent my resume and three writing samples: a personal essay and two biography entries. I was ecstatic about interning for a magazine. I would learn how it runs, how an issue is put together, experience working with an editor and get published.
Since I had worked with children as a former teacher, I thought I made a good candidate for MetroKids. The skills I would gain would increase my chances of being hired at a magazine if that's what I wanted to do once I completed the internship.
After I clicked "send", I realized I didn't include a cover letter. Did I have to? They only asked for a resume and writing samples in the ad. My anxiety began to build. I pulled up Google and searched "cover letters" and found out I should include a cover letter each time I apply for a job, even if it isn't specified. Employers view an applicant without a cover letter as lazy and throw out their resume.
Now, I knew that. I included one every time I applied for a teaching position. They became easy. All I had to do was change a few things: address the letter to the specific school district and update any skills I acquired. Writing jobs I've applied to require me to write almost an entirely different cover letter each time. An annoying and painstakingly long process, but necessary if I want to be hired.
My anxiety started to overwhelm me. Instead of kicking myself for missing an opportunity, I sent another email including a cover letter. Then I waited. A week went by with no response. I assumed that my resume was overlooked because I didn't include a cover letter the first time. Another attempt at getting a job failed.
Then, I received a phone call from a number I didn't recognize while I writing two weeks ago. After debating, I picked it up. The man on the other end, Tom Livingston, was the editor at MetroKids. He had looked over my resume and writing samples and was interested in offering me the internship. He revealed he wasn't sure what to think about my writing samples, since he focuses on journalistic writing, but the calendar editor, Stephanie Halinski, said I wrote with "vivid verbs". What a great compliment.
The following week I would head into the tiny magazine office in Philly to make sure Tom and I "didn't hate each other." I appreciated his humor, and realized this internship was starting off more positively than the last one.
I went in on Monday, met the friendly staff, and received an overview of my responsibilities. Tom showed me his wall of magazine covers dating back to 1999 (when I graduated high school) that help him reference font styles and formats that he liked for future issues. He then explained he needed a few more weeks to put the 2011 editorial calendar together before he could assign me an article, and asked me to trust him. I said sure. I had no reason not to.
Just then, the distribution manager, Leah, informed Tom and Stephanie that November's issue had arrived. I walked downstairs to participate with two other staff members, six of us in all, in the high-tech system of getting the magazine in the building: a human assembly line. I was getting practical, on-the-job experience of how a magazine works. Although unexpected, I really enjoyed it.
Then, I sat down with Stephanie as she guided me through the process of updating attraction listings. Everything appeared pretty straight forward and I would have a typed up guide to help me at home. The attractions needed to be put on the web site, eventually used to create 2011's Find-It Book.
Tom walked me to the subway entrance down the street after I said my good-byes and let everyone know it was nice to meet them. I told him I was very excited to be working with him and the magazine. He assured me that I was welcome to come in and work to get an idea of what it's like working for a magazine.
While riding the R3 home, I realized I didn't know which section to start updating. An email from Stephanie greeted me when I finally made it home. She said I should start with Bucks County, since I live there.
I finished that Thursday, sent in my update report and received my next assignment to add attractions that were not already in the database from the Bucks County listing. Stephanie's email responses are prompt and answered any question I presented. I know I made the right choice to stop the work I was doing with my previous internship.
There might have been a lot of negative memories, but my first intern experience made me a stronger person. I speak up for myself, and look out for my best interests while working for someone else. I dictate the parameters of my internship. I set and reach my goals. I just need to remind myself it isn't going to happen over night. Hard work and mistakes will reveal my path.
I am grateful I can work from home, but still go in to the office when I want to with MetroKids. I enjoy Tom's self-deprecating humor and Stephanie's sweet personality. I can't wait for my first writing assignment. I knew, if I kept moving forward with my eyes peeled, new opportunities would present themselves.